Belgian Wout Van Aert showed his rival Mathieu van der Poel his back and won Sunday’s world cup race in cycling cross in Belgian Dendermonde.
The duel between Van Aert and van der Poel was anticipated in advance, all the time it was the first time this cycling cross season that the duo was on the starting line at the same time.
When the competition started, it became relatively early clear that the home hope Van Aert was in his own class. The Belgian got the lead to his fiercest rival after four of eight rounds. Then he never looked back and won by a margin of 49 seconds.
Van der Poel took an equally superb second place.
The outcome was not entirely surprising. Dutch van der Poel should have opened the season last weekend, but a knee injury has caused trouble at the start of the cycling cross season.
In the coming days, new duels await between two of cycling’s wonderboys. On December 27, they are both on the starting line in Heusden-Zolder, before a busy Christmas period ends with a new World Cup race in Hulst on January 2.